My name is Susan Swander; I’m a 60-year-old woman who lives in Oregon. This is the story of my three abortions and my healing from Post-Abortion Syndrome. I have two goals in sharing the horrors of my 36 years of suffering from PAS. First, I want to tell all post-abortive parents that there is hope and healing. Second, I want to make sure that all parents considering an abortion are aware of the horror that awaits them because the abortion providers will not give them all of the relevant information. The abortion providers will not speak of Post Abortion Syndrome.
At 18, in 1968, I was sexually active and got pregnant and the father, who was a one-night stand, was long gone. I didn’t want my parents to know about my promiscuity, so I went to some radical pro-choice friends who helped me get drunk and get an abortion in Mexico. Six years later, I was having an affair with a married man who insisted that I get an abortion when we got pregnant. And, then in 1991, my married friend and I were pregnant again. Again, I was given a choice – him or an abortion. I had my third abortion.
After each abortion, I do remember a sense of relief of not being pregnant, but that relief did not last very long. My drinking and my promiscuity increased dramatically; I discovered drugs; I started a deadly relationship with food and yo-yo dieting; I had a miscarriage; and I fell in love a dozen times and couldn’t make one of the relationships work. I was married and divorced twice. This spiral into hell lasted for 36 years.
My healing began in small ways – in 1981 with the birth of my son, in 1985 with God’s gift of sobriety, and in 1997 with my return to my Catholicism. In the fall of 2003, I saw a box ad in a church bulletin for Rachel’s Vineyard retreats for post-abortion healing. I went to the Rachel’s Vineyard web site and wept buckets of tears as I read it. It was the first time in 36 years that I really looked at my abortions for what they were – the murder of my three children.
It took me awhile to get up the courage to call, but thank God I did. I attended a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat in April 2004. What a remarkable, healing experience this weekend was. Words do not do justice to the love, compassion, and understanding I found during the retreat. Perhaps most importantly, I met and named my three children – Luke, Grace and Benjamin. I found forgiveness – from them and from God. I am learning to forgive myself. Each time that I share my story, I heal a little more. At my retreat, I promised my children that I would no longer hide them and that I would share our story whenever I could.
I have become involved in the Rachel’s Vineyard ministry as part of the retreat team in Oregon. This is part of my ongoing journey of healing, and it is a wonderful way for me to give back a small part of the gift that the ministry gave to me at my retreat.
If you are reading this and are contemplating an abortion, please reconsider. It will cause you untold pain and heartache. If you have had an abortion, please know that healing is available. None of us has to live alone with the shame, guilt and pain that come after an abortion.